Does Fat removed via liposuction come back elsewhere?

There is a fascinating liposuction study recently reported about in the New York Times. This new study, from the University of Colorado, focused on whether fat removed via liposuction can come back in a different area. From the NY Times:

In the study, the researchers randomly assigned nonobese women to have liposuction on their protuberant thighs and lower abdomen or to refrain from having the procedure, serving as controls. As compensation, the women who were control subjects were told that when the study was over, after they learned the results, they could get liposuction if they still wanted it. For them, the price would also be reduced from the going rate.

The result, published in the latest issue of Obesity, was that fat came back after it was suctioned out. It took a year, but it all returned. But it did not reappear in the women’s thighs. Instead, Dr. Eckel said, “it was redistributed upstairs,” mostly in the upper abdomen, but also around the shoulders and triceps of the arms.

Is this really possible? I do a lot of liposuction surgery and have never had a patient come back and claim that, while their weight remained stable, fat returned to a different body part. I’ve always believed, as many plastic surgeons, that the fat removed from liposuction is gone forever. As long as the patient keeps his or her lifestyle the same, the fat should not return.

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